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As James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad seems to have won over the critics in a rather overwhelming fashion, the march to opening weekend seems destined for good feelings. Quite a head of praise has been built in advance of this DC Comic sequel, but that sort of thing doesn’t always lead to opening weekend success. As it stands, The Suicide Squad looks like it might be in for a rough start, with an estimated $30 million as the low water mark for its debut in theaters.
This estimate comes from Variety, who reported that on the lower end of expectations, The Suicide Squad could earn “more than $30 million” over its first weekend. However, in more optimistic projections, James Gunn’s big DC coup could top $40 million when it takes its first bow. With the theatrical market still existing in a sort of limbo between normalcy and the times we currently live in, it’s anyone’s guess as to how this weekend’s only major release will truly fare.
Comparatively, there’s two benchmarks we could look at, and one of them happens to be the recent release of Marvel’s Black Widow. Between a simultaneous premium streaming window and theatrical release, Scarlett Johansson’s MCU midquel managed to rack up $80 million during its opening weekend. As that was the first comic film in theaters since pre-pandemic times, the PG-13 rated film had an easier time getting to such a figure right out the gate. Though premium release formats, as well as 3D presentations, most likely helped bolster that number as well; and The Suicide Squad doesn’t have a 3D version in the cards.
Not to mention, with an R-rating and advanced word reporting that The Suicide Squad is more akin to James Gunn’s devil may care Troma days, Black Widow’s numbers may be that much harder to reach. Then again, if you look back at the critically panned Suicide Squad from 2016, even that film was able to open at $135.1 million in the before times; so current events seem to be taking their toll all over. However, there’s one way that The Suicide Squad could save the day at the box office, and it’s by playing the long game.
What The Suicide Squad’s long term success may depend on is, quite honestly, the word of mouth that will start to arise as early as tonight’s advanced screenings. Bringing back Suicide Squad members like Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, as well as introducing a slew of new players ranging from Idris Elba to Nathan Fillion, there’s going to be a mix of nostalgia for that first film and a reaction to the new path James Gunn is forging. That sort of scenario could break on either side of the divide, meaning Warner Bros. could be pleasantly surprised or woefully disappointed when all is said and done. But if the fans are pleased, then those who may be gun shy with this follow up to David Ayer's previous film might be convinced to head to the movies and give The Suicide Squad a spin themselves.
It all comes down to the fans, and tonight begins the grand game, as The Suicide Squad will be opening in theaters, and debuting on HBO Max, as of 7 PM ET. If you’re feeling up to heading out to the movies, be sure to check your local listings, and have fun. But if you want to catch the bonkers excitement on your own couch, you should check out the current subscription offer that’ll allow you to do just that.